by Swami Krishnananda
There are seven gatekeepers to the palace of the Absolute, and they will prevent your entry. These gatekeepers are actually taxation officers. There are seven kinds of tax you have to pay before you are allowed entry into that great magnificence. The moment you take a step in the direction of this great attainment, you will be stopped at the first gate and told to pay your dues. What are the dues?
The first dues—the types of obligation which you have to discharge—are the impulses arising from within yourself in connection with your social relations. There is nothing wrong with society and there is nothing wrong with people, but, generally speaking, something is not all right with your attitude to people. I am not going to speak to you here on sociology, but you can bestow some deep thought on this matter and find out for yourself what attitude you have towards people outside. Put a question to yourself: Are you justified? Any attitude you have within yourself has to be accepted by the law of the Absolute, so you cannot just go ahead with your whims and fantasies. Whoever has a clear idea as to what it is that one is aspiring for—the great wonderful attainment—will also know what laws operate in regard to that attainment.
Any contradictory attitude or behaviour from your side in respect of the social atmosphere either by attachment or by hatred should be reconciled, and then you become a general witness of things. When you go above this realm, you cannot carry with you any kind of social prejudice. That has to be shed. Everyone is involved in society. There is a give-and-take arrangement between one person and another person. Whatever you are obliged to give to society for the extent of service it has rendered to you, that obligation has to be discharged. If you have taken nothing, you need not give anything. There should not be a feeling pinching you that some obligation has not been discharged. As I mentioned, the mistake is not in people; it is in your attitude. What you think about people—your thoughts about other people in society either this way or that way—is the social determining factor in your personal life. You cannot say that you are unconnected with society, because every minute you can see how you are connected to other people in the world. This has to be carefully taken care of, and a harmonious relationship between yourself and the atmosphere of society has to be carefully attempted—slowly, not abruptly by taking a sudden step.
In the practice of yoga there is no sudden step; nothing can be done abruptly. The process of yoga practice is a gradual, wholesome growth from lesser maturity to higher maturity, as a child or a baby grows into an adult. The baby does not suddenly jump into adulthood; it is a systematic, organic, wholesome, complete mature developmental process into the adult condition. In a similar manner is the whole practice of the limbs of yoga. There is no jump. Some say that there is a ladder of ascent in yoga, which gives the impression that there are rungs, one different from the other—or rather, one unconnected to the others. But here, each rung is organically related to the others. It is not like a ladder that is used to climb to the top of a building, where one rung is not organically corrected with another. Here the rungs are vitally connected, and any error at the base will affect the further rungs.
So tell the gatekeeper, "I have no misgivings about human relations, and people have no misgivings about me." In the Bhagavadgita there is a brief statement: "You should not behave in such a way that people shrink away from you, nor should you shrink away from them." This is a harmonious relationship of the so-called external atmosphere—so-called, because it is really not external. As humanity is an organic integrality, to say that society is outside is also not a correct statement. In this concept of the social integration of values, you stand above society. You do not anymore remain as a social single unit, but are a representative of humanity as a whole. This is a psychological exercise which is not difficult to understand and not difficult to practice, because you are growing from less healthy conditions to a more healthy condition. If that taxation is paid, you are allowed inside.
Then the second gatekeeper stops you. All your material entanglements should also be properly dealt with. You cling to money, you cling to property, you cling to your house, and to all the economic values connected with your existence. These are part and parcel of your very bloodstream; you cannot even exist without them. They have to be properly attended to. Will you lose all your property and then go to the Absolute? It will be a shock. "I have a large estate, millions and millions. I have earned it with great difficulty. Do I leave it? No." The heart will rebel at the proposal. It is more difficult than the earlier one. As you advance further, the difficulty goes on increasing because you go within yourself more and more. The things outside are not a difficulty. When you go inside yourself, it is a terror. You do not require any instruction on this matter. When you leave this body, what happens to your property? Will you get a shock to hear this, or will you feel, "Nothing is happening to me, I am perfectly all right. The property concept is what has been annoying me." Property is not a problem. People are not problems. Money and land are also not problems. But you have a particular clinging to them either this way or that way, making it appear as if they totally belong to you as your property. The wealth that is given to you, the property that is bestowed upon you, have to be managed as if you are a trustee—a caretaker, and not a possessor. It is the possessorship that creates the problem within you because if you are a possessor, you cannot leave it. If you are a trustee, you have a great responsibility over it, but you are not the possessor of it, so if you get transferred to another place you will lose nothing.
Nobody can own anything in this world, because things are external. Property is external. It is not inside your body and, therefore, it cannot be held in the grip of your hand. Even if gold is held tightly in the grip of your hand, it has not become yours. It is still outside, and it can drop out of your hand. Anything outside is not your property; and as all property is outside, nothing belongs to you.
These taxation officers do not expect anything from you materially. They expect a transformation of your evaluation of things. Your problem is your evaluation—a mental operation—and not the thing as such. No thing can trouble you; it is your evaluation of things that troubles you.
Here is a person. This person can be considered as many things: your father, your boss, or you can consider the very same person as your servant. You may consider that person as your friend, or as an opponent. Now, has the person become so many things in one minute? He is the same person, but your relationship has interpreted him in various ways. It is this interpretation that will cling to you and bite you like a scorpion if you try to move forward without making amends for these attitudes.
All problems are inside you. Your thoughts, your feelings, your emotions are the problems. Do not make complaints against the trees and mountains, the sun and stars, and so on. This adjustment to the concept of position, property, belonging, house, relation, etc.—this transvaluation of the values of this kind of relationship that you have with property—should be modified into an integral concept, as you did earlier in your social relations. When you are given a clean chit, you enter through that gate.
Then the third gatekeeper stops you. These are the vital longings of your personality. Your pranas urge you in the direction of a kind of satisfaction. The vital longings are well known to people. What are the vital longings? They are the intense desire to live only in this body and not bother about any other body. You would not like to be transferred to someone else's body; that would be horrible. If permission is granted for you to transfer yourself from your body to another person's body, would you like it? You cling to your body only, and to none other. "I am only this, and nothing more." This is one kind of vital attachment.
The second vital longing is sex. It is a terrible boogie that is before everyone's eyes, mind or feelings, because no one has understood its meaning. Sex is not merely a relationship between a man and a woman. That is only an outer manifestation of an internal longing. You are bound by the time processes, and you know that you are going to die one day. But nobody would like to die. You would like to continue in the process of time, even if this physical body is to pass away. That is the longing for the perpetuation of the species. You want a child to be born. The child is a reproduction of your own self, so you feel that you are physically immortalised because you have produced a child. People marry, but they do not know why they marry. It is a hobgoblin in front of them, a great nightmare. Nobody knows that it is a fawning demon wanting to swallow you. You think you must marry, but what is the purpose? Why are you pushed in that direction so vehemently? The species tells you, "You fellows are going to perish. I shall see that your species continues." The voice of the species is like a terrifying rod telling you that you cannot go without transforming yourself into another form of your own self.
The species cannot perish. It is the rod of time that is punishing you in the form of the longing for the production of children. This urge is called sex. It is not man wanting woman or woman wanting man. That is a misconception. It is something else inside—a devilish urge to perpetuate the physical personality in the form of progeny. Nobody understands this, because if it is clear to your mind, you will never go for it. So an illusion is cast by nature for its own purposes. "It is for your good. Go for it! You will be blessed." This demonical voice that you are hearing from inside is like Satan speaking to Adam and Eve. "Eat the forbidden fruit. How beautiful, how tasty!" When the tasty fruit was eaten, hell descended the next moment. It is said that God kept a flaming sword at the gates of heaven. "Come not here. Go!" You fall down headlong into the perdition of human sorrow. The power of illusion connected with this impulse is so strong that nobody can pierce through it. And while it is a devastation of one's welfare, it looks like a great blessing.
You must be able to understand this matter. Overcoming the urge of species is as difficult, or even more difficult, than the urge for possession of material wealth and social relations. The urge cannot be resisted by the power of will or any kind of foolish austerity, starvation, or running away. You cannot run away from the devil; it will pursue you wherever you go. Understand the significance of what I have said: you are misguided by the voice of the species, which wants to perpetuate the sorrow of existence.
Schopenhauer was one of the persons who thought about this matter. Why do you hide that part of your body? You can expose your mouth, you can expose your chest, legs and hands, but you always cover your sex organs. This is the demon that is sitting inside, and if you treat it with a callous attitude, the demon's work will not go on properly. So it is a shame before you, and you do not want to expose your shame. Why is it a shame? You are going to do something devastating to the soul and, therefore, it is a shame. You are guarding your pugnacious attitude which appears to be the beautiful voice of a friend, but it is actually from a satanic manifestation in the form of a snake. Psychologists and psychoanalysts say that the snake represents sexual desire, and those who have intense sexual longing have dreams of snakes. So, if you are able to visualise the cosmical significance of this urge which is pushing you exteriorly—not internally or universally—by understanding the situation, you will be able to overcome the impulse. A divine universality will take possession of you, and this externalised urge will stop in one second, if you want.